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Canadiens Pre Game

Canadiens Game 16: Slafkovsky Returns, Forward Lineup Shuffle

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The Montreal Canadiens (8-6-1) face the surging New Jersey Devils (12-3-0) on Thursday night at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

The Canadiens will aim to extend their three-game winning streak, but it will be a difficult task given the New Jersey Devils are one of the best teams in the entire league this season, and are working on an impressive winning streak of their own.

With nine straight wins, the Devils are currently third overall in the league, just four points behind the league-leading Boston Bruins with one game in hand.

Their fantastic start extends to the road, where the Devils have only lost one game in five attempts.

Powered by a very impressive top-six, which includes former Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar, the Devils own one of the most potent offensive groups in the league. With 3 goals and 8 assists in 15 games, Tatar has found his scoring rhythm on the first line, playing alongside the first-overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Nico Hischier.

In addition, the Devils’ second line, which features the team’s leading scorer Jesper Bratt and another first-overall pick in Jack Hughes, can break the game open with their offensive prowess and high-end skill level.

The Canadiens’ rookies will face one of their biggest tests of the year in attempting to shut down one of the teams in the league with the most offensive depth, though there might be a silver lining for many of the forwards that are attempting to earn more minutes under head coach Martin St-Louis.

As it stands, the Devils have two goaltenders on the injured reserve, including starter Mackenzie Blackwood, however, it should be noted both Vitek Vanecek and Akir Schmid have performed admirably in his absence.

Captain Nick Suzuki has scored 12 points in his last 7 games and will be tasked with leading the Canadiens’ offence, though he may receive some secondary scoring from players such as Evgenii Dadonov and Brendan Gallagher, who probably deserve a few more points this season given how well they’ve been playing.

Both Joel Armia and Jonathan Drouin will be kept out of the Canadiens lineup due to upper-body injuries, however, Juraj Slafkovsky returns to play following a two-game suspension for his hit on Matt Luff.

The bottom six will look a little different than in previous games, with both Slafkovsky and Michael Pezzetta slotting into the lineup.

Veteran defenceman Mike Matheson is still wearing a blue, non-contact jersey at practice, which indicates he’s nearing a return but is not ready for game-time action just yet.

Canadiens Injuries

  • Jonathan Drouin (upper-body injury, day-to-day)
  • Joel Armia (upper-body injury, day-to-day)
  • Emil Heineman (IR)
  • Mike Matheson (IR)
  • Carey Price (LTIR)
  • Paul Byron (LTIR)

Devils Injuries

  • Mackenzie Blackwood (IR)
  • Ondrej Palat (IR)
  • Jonathan Bernier (IR)

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lines

LWCRW
Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiKirby Dach
Juraj SlafkovskySean Monahan *UNCONFIRMED*Josh Anderson
Evgenii DadonovChristian DvorakJoel Armia
Michael PezzettaJake EvansRem Pitlick
LDRD
Joel EdmundsonKaiden Guhle
Mike MathesonJohnathan Kovacevic
Arber XhekajJordan Harris
Goalie
Jake Allen
Samuel Montembeault

New Jersey Devils Projected Lines:

Tatar – Hischier – Zetterlund

Haula – Hughes – Bratt

Sharangovich – Mercer – Boqvist

Wood – McLeod – Bastian

Defence:

Siegenthaler – Hamilton

Graves – Marino

Smith Severson

Goalies:

Vanecek

Schmid

Special Teams

TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Montreal Canadiens17.1% (29th)79.1% (12th)
Seattle Kraken26.0% (8th)66.7% (30th)

Game Notes:

  • This is the first of three meetings between the Montreal Canadiens and the New Jersey Devils this season.
  • Nick Suzuki leads the Canadiens in scoring with 10 goals and 9 assists in 15 games.
  • Kirby Dach’s excellent play on the top line has carried through the week. He now has 4 goals and 10 assists this season.
  • Michael Pezzetta will play his third game of the season for the Canadiens.

How to Watch Or Listen

TV

RDS, TSN2, MSGSN

Radio

Canadiens: TSN 69098,5FM

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